Leo Rhodes is a truly amazing man. Most people, when they become homeless, they are so depressed that they can’t do anything but survive. And in homelessness the depression and immobility just deepens.
But not Leo. After years of homelessness in Seattle, he and some friends decided to do something about it. They developed Nickelsville, a homeless community where people could build their own homes and live in security. Leo also became active in the city council in both of his homes, Seattle and Portland. Lately, he and others helped develop the Right to Dream 2 (R2D2) camp in downtown Portland.
To make ends meet, he would sell Street Roots at a local Portland store.
Don’t tell me that the homeless are lazy. That they can’t make a difference. That they are useless. Leo proves that wrong.
Recently, Leo was interviewed for the high school student magazine that my kids go to, Grant High School.
Here is a portion of it:
Every night, Leo Rhodes can go home to a place of his own. He can sleep through the night without waking up in fear. He no longer worries about finding his next meal, hiding things from his boss or racing around to find a place to sleep.
Six months ago, this would not have been possible. Rhodes was homeless and had lived on the streets for 19 years. And like the more than 3.5 million others who wind up on the streets on any given night, Rhodes was in crisis.
“People don’t understand how hard it is and what you have to go through on the streets,” says Rhodes, who is known in the Grant community for perching outside of Whole Foods on Northeast Sandy Boulevard and selling Street Roots newspapers to passersby.
Today, with the help of a Portland City Commissioner, social service agencies and the Street Roots newspaper, Rhodes has managed to get back on his feet. He’s free of the drugs and alcohol that had previously wracked his life. And he wants to make a difference for others.
“Leo is hard to miss because of his involvement in advocacy,” says City Commissioner Nick Fish. “He is very social and personable. He does not hold back.”
If you’d like to read more, check out the Grant Magazine: http://thegrantmag.com/giving-a-voice-to-the-voiceless